It was 5 years ago yesterday (2009) that I was involved in a road traffic accident…
So not surprisingly, I have been quietly reflecting on all that has happened since.
If you have ever heard me talk about it or read my book After The Crash, you will know that one of the best things that was said to me in the few days after the crash, was a question from my brother.
He simply said “when you are through this, what do you want to come out of it?”
It was a brilliant thing to say on 2 counts – 1: in saying ‘when you are through this’ he acknowledged that there would be a healing journey to come and it was ok for me to be not there yet, and 2: helped me to have and articulate a positive vision for how to use this experience.
My answer was also 2 fold – 1: I want to be able to get in a car and drive again without thinking about it and 2: I want to be able to us this experience to help other people.
1. I am driving easily again. It took time and BABY steps when I was ready to conquer each one: getting in a car, getting in the drivers seat, driving with support, driving on my own, driving at night, driving on dual carriage ways, driving on motorways, driving past lorries, driving to new places for the first time, driving on THE motor way, driving past the actual spot.
2. I have experienced first hand going through the ups and downs of being someone who was diagnosed with PTSD. I’ve learnt a lot!
I’ve learnt it is not a life sentence – unless you choose it to be.
I know there is hope. Traumatic experiences are about being faced with the possibility of death. Healing can bring you to a place where you are focused on life again.
Working with just words and talking will never get people free from the experience of trauma – it impacts the body first and foremost and the body remembers.
So what else has happened in these 5 years?
1. Being a sounding board for friends who knew they could ask me questions or advice for other friends who were involved with RTAs following mine.
2. Discovering TRE and becoming a qualified practitioner – equipped to help other people learn how to release trauma safely, become grounded and stabilize their nervous system, without having to talk about what happened.
3. Completing an MA, focusing research on working with Mums who have experienced multiple trauma. The impact this work can have indirectly on their children can be enormous!
4. Delivering training in schools to help staff begin to understand more about the children they are working with and how best to support them.
5. Gently, but professionally challenging mis-diagnosis for certain children who were referred to me for Play Therapy – GPs have agreed that it wasn’t ADHD but PTSD – inappropriate medications have been stopped.
6. Supporting parents to understand why their children are doing what they are doing…and how to respond from a place of empowered insight rather then bewilderment, frustration and fear.
7. Writing an Ebook that has been read by so many people – therapists, counselors teachers and Family Support workers, friends and family of people who’ve been through trauma (not just car crashes) as well as the survivors themselves, with some very touching feedback.
8. Spotting children in schools and out, who have been through trauma and recognising the language of their demeanor and behaviour, and explaining their language to those working with them daily.
9. Advising children’s homes in Morocco and Mongolia where trauma is a common factor for the whole community.
Hmmmm. Well, this was supposed to be a short post…
It is interesting really how I have quite surprised myself at all the things that have come out of the experience I went through that started 5 years ago. How easily we can forget….and how important it is to mark our milestones and acknowledge the good fruit even from a horrible experience. I think it is safe to say my second hope has happened as well… And still is.
It seemed really appropriate to spend the day yesterday with an entire staff team of a primary school in Birmingham, helping them understand the reality of trauma better… For the children, the whole school community and for themselves. So many of them came up to me through the day to have a quick chat 1:1. They have been through it too…
Trauma truly is a hidden epidemic. It is affecting lives, relationships, families, schools, health and potential. It’s impact can seem huge. But I still believe there is hope. It just needs each of us to get real, acknowledge what has happened, pursue our own healing journey and keep going. If any of this resonates with you, then let me leave you with that question too…
“When you are through this, what do you want to come out of it?”